There’s a new trend in bathroom design in public spaces.

When I enter many a restroom, I find a long row of sinks (usually between four and six) but only two soap dispensers, one on each end.

What this means is that only two of the sinks have direct access to the soap.

Which means that you have to wait for the people at either side to finish washing their hands before you can even get soap.

insert scratching head emoji…

In a world where we have learned the lesson of spreading germs and how important it is to use soap and sing happy birthday as we wash our hands, why would places choose to limit how many soap dispensers they put in a rest room?

Is it aesthetics? Is a sparsely appointed bathroom more visually desirable? Form over function?

Is it cost? Two dispensers means they need to buy less soap?

But whatever the reason, it makes it very inconvenient when there is a bathroom full of people waiting to wash their hands.

The most egregious member of the two dispenser/six sink layout is my gym.

How can a GYM, where people sweat and share equipment, only have two soap dispensers?

And what adds to the whole washing hands dilemma is that they put one of the two hand dryers right next to the soap dispenser, which is next to the sink, so now you not only have to wait to wash your hands, you have to sneak in to dry them as well…

The problem I feel is that the hurried and the lazy will just not wash their hands with soap- or frankly won’t even put water on them. I think we’ve all seen people leave a public rest area without washing, and you know that they’re not all just adjusting their underwear…

So it this phenomena happening in your neck of the woods, or are you still holding on to the one sink/one soap dispenser rule?

Do you think that people don’t actually think when they are designing something for practical use?


63 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen Friday: Where’s the Soap

  1. Both Logan (Boston) and Pearson (Toronto) airports have that which I just discovered last weekend. Restaurants have that (I can name two large local ones with 4-6 sinks, and 2 soap dispensers). Hockey rinks. You know I lived my life in rinks… the larger facilities with multiple sinks in a row have 2 dispensers. Oh, and mostly, they’re empty. I can’t tell you how many times we walked from one dispenser to another with dripping hands and both dispensers were empty.


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mens’ rooms are no different. Soap dispensers are almost always empty. Raleigh is a really nice airport. Very clean and nicely appointed. But soap in the dispensers? Good luck.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m with Claudette. Weird and as you said, LA, what have we learned, people?! It seems to be a trend – this “economy” of hand dryers and soap dispensers. I can only imagine it’s a cost savings thing…but then I think you’re also wondering if it’s a design thing, too. Maybe! Either way, ewww. 🙄

    Liked by 3 people

  3. And they are empty…hmm, I remember decades ago at the Sorbonne living as an au pair in an old historic flat. The Paris family lived in big quarters downstairs and I had a tiny little bed room on the top floor with a squat on your hinds toilet. I liked the family and they encouraged me to shower, use the bathroom in their flat, etc. I believe I lasted 6 months before looking to share a flat.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t know that I’ve noticed that, but then again I’m not out frequenting many a public restroom. I would not be surprised however if it’s a cost thing but the logic if that’s the case seems flawed.

    Maybe there was a nationwide study done, hidden cameras in public restrooms that found that very few people wash their hands so away went the soap!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Money talks and this is a way to save some almighty $$$. Isn’t it funny though how when it suits people, in order to fit a narrative, cleanliness and germ-free was so important. But when it costs money, we can push all that to the side.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Years later, I admire the frugalness of the Parisienne couple wanting an American au pair for their twins to learn English. It suited them and it suited me as I was able to attend the Sorbonne on a partial scholarship from my university. I imagine they still have their monies as one was a banker and one was a doctor. I could write a blog about eating too much of their cheese tray and make everyone laugh. Maybe one day. The rustic setting for the au pair was okay for me being so young but even their apt. in a great area was sparsely decorated. Very conservative and careful. I believe they taught me a good lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is why I carry hand sanitizer when traveling. I’m SOL when at a restaurant or movie theater. I still wash my hands even if it requires waitng my turn but I’m sure (wink wink) the door handle, the faucet handle or towel dispenser are well sanitized!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great point, and working for years in the medical field you learn the correct way not only to wash hands but to deal with all the extraneous stuff you have to touch after your hands are clean. Your paper towel never leaves your hands and is used to turn off the faucet if not automatic as well as open the door with it. Afterwards find the nearest hand sanitizer as an added precaution.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I assume you mean the air dryers? If you have to push something to activate use arm/elbow/ back of hand as last resort, going out the door 1 finger if possible or time it to someone else coming or going and then run for the hand sanitizer. Let’s face it public restrooms are not ideal but for god’s sake they at least need soap!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, such a help and that should be standard if there’s room near the door That way you can open the door with the towel, prop it with a foot and toss the paper. I like the bigger places- like airports, that don’t even have doors, just the long or curving entries but that’s not feasible everywhere.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I am of the opinion that men have created bathrooms and how they look and function, as a result, they don’t think about things women need, such as more toilets, or what makes logical sense when women use bathrooms a lot more and longer than men, such as more soap dispensers.

    Hope what I’m saying makes sense.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Yes, a head-scratcher and as you point out, I suspect they put a lot of thought into it as a way of cutting costs. It’s the same phenomenon that I see outside fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and big box stores. No trash cans. Yes, I’m sure it cuts down their costs, but leads to liter and messiness. Ugh. In light of the pandemic, though, wouldn’t more dispensers make sense? Kind of sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As soon as there is a bathroom uprising across the nation, a maid will be provided for each bathroom. She will be at your elbow as you stand at the sink and, for a tip deemed worthy, will squirt one dollop of soap on your hands. She will depend entirely on tips, so the only cost to the establishment will be the soap. It might cost you $10 to wash your hands.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I never thought about this! I do wash my hands properly after using the restroom. But as long as there is a soap dispenser, water and towels, I am happy. But sometimes I do find there are no paper towels.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well that’s very strange and not something I’ve noticed here. There are signs everywhere that say wash and dry your hands and so far, the bean counters haven’t decided to cut the number of soap dispensers here in Wellington. And as for the hand dryers, I prefer to dry my hands on the disposable towels, although I think that probably they will be no longer available as we are all trying to cut down on disposables

    Liked by 1 person

  12. One of the few positive things about lockdowns was that every public facility had their restrooms well maintained. What happened? Good hygiene is as important as ever. And your gym??? That’s just crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s my understanding, based on my experience in the last gym I belonged to, that they find that these mechanical items are always getting broken, so they just don’t do a lot to make or keep them available to patrons. Clearly, many abuse them and, since these individuals cannot be identified and/or will not do “the right thing” to make and keep them available for all, the easiest thing for proprietors to do is to keep the number available to a minimum.

    I got a similar excuse for not having a garbage disposal in my apartment from the complex’s maintenance team.


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